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Master Erick Larson
Official Instructor at Pinnacle Martial Arts🏔️ Instructor
🥋TKD White Belt

I'm sure most of the people who have signed up for the Mayor's Cup received this email from Alex Kilpatric at Master Na's Academy in Federal Way. Much of the information is applicable to any tournament. Copied below for all:

How-to-Tournament for Taekwondo Parents

I’m a parent of a black belt at the Lacey dojang. Our school has a tournament every year so some of us “older” parents thought it would be helpful to let newer families know about how to prepare and what to expect from the Mayor’s Cup. This is addressed mostly to parents but any competing adults would find 75% of it useful. I don’t know and can’t remember everything so if any ”older” parents want to comment, correct, remind or expand on an idea in the comments, PLEASE DO. If anyone has questions, ASK.

What to Know

1. Mayor’s Cup Is a Good Experience. This is truly open to any kid or adult of any age, at any level. If any of your kids are on the fence, have them talk to one of the masters or black belts about their concerns. Half the things kids are worried about are not part of normal tournaments. The other half is stuff that will be addressed in depth during class. Honest.

2. Competition Will Change Your Kid. They’ll get (more) serious about practicing. They’ll get a clearer idea how to manage themselves when working toward a goal. It’s remarkable. ... Results may vary.

3. We Are All Part of the Team We help keep track of other kids’ sparring bags and breaking boards. We’ll keep an eye on a surplus kids while the parent is down watching their other kid compete. We lend equipment if we can. We share snacks if we can. We clean up our area. We help set up or take down if we can.

4. Parents Are Spectators. The first competition I went to I was all twisted up trying to figure out where my kid should be and what he was supposed to be doing and who was in charge and why aren’t things moving along, and, and, and. Just chill. Let the masters and judges do their jobs. They’ve been doing this a while.

5. This is an All Day Event The schedule rapidly becomes a guideline. It usually ends pretty darn close to or before the scheduled time, though.

6. Changing/Bathrooms A couple years ago, kids could change in the locker rooms. Last time only two small bathrooms were open. Be prepared to improvise with uniform changes.

7. Things Get Random For example: Master Na sometimes will put a kid into a competition they didn’t sign up for. You will never be able to predict this. File it under “Just chill”.

8. In Holding Athletes line up in the holding area when their division is called. Sometimes they end up staying there for a while. It is fine for them to stretch, talk to their friends quietly or plug in to some music. If the kids have any questions, they can ask. But if they use the bathroom and take their sweet time coming back, they may miss their walk to their ring.

9. Politeness and High Ranking Persons No one ever says this but you should know: Several of the judges are Masters, Grand Masters, International Referees and/or personal friends of Master Na. There are also various elected office holders around. And, most importantly, Grandmothers. If your kid sees a black belt bowing to someone, it’s a safe bet your kid should follow suit. Be aware of the people around you. Yield the way to the elders. No pushing past them. Hold the doors for them. Always hand or receive things with your right hand or both hands. "Yes, Sir. No, Ma’am. Thank you, Sir. Yes, please, Ma’am." Avoid complaining. If there is an issue, bring it up afterwards.

10. How the Cards Fall Your kid can get out there and do their personal best poomsae ever but today their best isn’t as good as someone else’s. This really blows for you and the kid and it’s just what happens sometimes. If they have done their best, tell them. They need to hear it from you. If the masters notice, they will tell your kid that, too. If it’s not their best, does the kid know what they need to do to be better? And that’s it. This isn’t a high stake, high pressures tournament. It’s for kids to learn what a tournament is like and how to be in one.


1. Arrival Come a little early. Your kid will need to pick up their credentials (showing that they are registered and for which competitions). This always feels confusing and nerve wracking. It’s okay. I promise.

2. Claim Your Space Usually the first people to arrive will claim a section of the bleachers for the rest of the families. You do not have to sit with everyone else but most people find it easier to do so.

3. Get Ready Use the program to figure out what division your kid is competing in and where the competition falls in the tournament timeline. When they call the athletes in your kid’s division to go to holding, your kid is now out of your hands.

4. Holding They have the athletes line up with the rest of their competitors. Usually, the minders check to make sure everyone on the registration list is there. If an athlete is missing, they generally make an announcement and/or send someone to look for them but sometimes there isn’t time. Kids have missed their chance because they wandered off and weren’t paying attention. It is the kid’s job to stick around.

5. Tournament Schedule Think of it as a guideline. If it looks like your kid’s division has been skipped, don’t worry. Sometimes they have to wait for a judge/referee to finish another event first.

6. We Can’t Get as Close as We’d Like There will be about 6-8 rings on gym floor. People tend to crowd around so they can see their kids up close. The problem is a lot of other people and organizers who are trying to keep track of things are blocked off. It is reasonable to ask people to give you some room to record when your kid is in the ring. But then move to make room for the next person. This is the one guaranteed point of conflict between the organizers and the spectators. There really is a reason they want to keep the area clear. If someone asks you to move, don’t grumble; move.

7. Clean Please help clean up as you go and before you leave. There is one janitor and he works hard enough already. We want to be welcomed back next year.

8. We Have a Reputation We are known as a “together” dojang (clean uniforms and polite, talented kids go a long way). We are also, technically, the hosts. Be helpful if you can. Do no harm if you can’t.


1. Positive Attitude. We’re a supportive group of families. We tend to cheer for and encourage each other’s kids.

2. Cash If your kid is competing in board breaking, you have to buy the boards at the tournament. This is to keep doctored boards out of the competition. There MAY be a card reader to take payment but they frequently go on the fritz. Same with food concessions.

3. Clean Uniform It doesn’t hurt to iron the dobok. A trick is to starch the arm and leg cuffs so the dobok snaps when the kid punches or kicks. Totally unnecessary but makes them sound more powerful. If your kid prefers to wear a shirt under the dobok, the shirt must be all black or white with no text or graphics showing. REMEMBER THE BELT. Someone always forgets. Don't let it be you.

4. Clean Kid Hands, face and feet should be shiny clean. Add deodorant for the older kids. Hair should be tidy and kept away from the face. If hair is long, hold it back with a black (or white) band or in a ponytail, braid or bun. I don’t know what the recommendation is for boys with long hair but not long enough to be pulled back. You should ask. A black hair band maybe? No decorative pins, clips, glitter hairspray, dangly earrings or long necklaces for anyone. A lot of kids will wear flipflops or shower shoes between events to keep the bottoms of their feet clean.

5. Something to Clean the Kid with Someone is going to get ketchup on their face and possibly their uniform. Handiwipes and Tide spot cleaner are your friends.

6. Healthy Kid Make sure they’ve been eating healthily, hydrating and sleeping well in the days before the competition. It makes a true difference.

7. Food Plan Kids have different approaches to eating during competition. My kid doesn’t like to eat until all his competitions are over. Other kids micro-snack throughout the day. You know your kid best. There will be some food available: water, soda, chips, hot dogs and pizza slices. (The food sale is a fundraiser for We Team – bring cash.) There is no issue with you bringing your own food. Consider leaning toward stuff that’s easy to digest AND easy for a janitor to clean up.

This is a lot, I know. Really the most important things are a clean uniform and a well-rested kid. And cash. After that, you’ll figure it out.

David Tollefson
Jeremy Wallace
Raelynn Ruhle


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